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It's time to talk about Max Holloway

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Roar Guru
12th December, 2018
4

Last weekend defending UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway stepped into the octagon and put on an absolute masterclass against the fast rising Brian Ortega.

Leading into the fight there were two main points of focus: Brian Ortega’s ability to finish opponents in all fashions, and Max Holloway’s time out of the cage due to supposed weight cut issues.

Ortega, a Brazilian jujitsu specialist, headed into the fight with a 6-0 record, with his most recent appearance seeing him become the first man to finish Frankie Edgar, demolishing him with a vicious uppercut which virtually lifted his feet off the floor before he crumpled into a heap on the canvas.

Prior to that he had submission victories over Renato Moicano, Cub Swanson and Diego Brandao along with the two technical knockout victories over Clay Guida and Thiago Tavares.

While the UFC’s currency is most certainly dealt in victories, it’s important to note that Ortega has lost many rounds against those previously mentioned.

Max Holloway has had a very tough year after 2017, which he finished on a high with a pair of title-defending victories against former champion and arguably the best featherweight of all time, Jose Aldo.

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The win in December 2017 was basically a carbon copy of their June match-up, with Holloway spending the first round finding his range before turning on the pressure in Round 2 and unleashing relentless, unanswerable punishment in Round 3 to get the technical knockout finish in both fights.

In 2018 Max Holloway was announced as a late replacement for the injured Tony Ferguson against reigning lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Taking the fight on six days notice proved too much, and he was pulled from the card by the New York State Athletic Commission, which deemed the weight cut too dangerous on the day he was due to weigh in.

Following that disappointment, Holloway was scheduled to fight Brian Ortega on 7 July, but again he was forced off the card after suffering “concussion-like symptoms”, which many speculate is weight cut related.

Putting that all aside, the Max Holloway we saw against Ortega was the best version of Max Holloway we have ever seen. Weight cutting issues? Too big for the division? Well, he put that all to bed. His striking is suffering and his distance management is second to none in the UFC at present.

So where does Max rank and where does he go from here?

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He is the best featherweight we’ve ever seen. The discussion consists of only himself and Aldo, who he outclassed twice last year with relative ease.

At 31 (at the time of the fights), he is still more or less in his prime. Forget Conor McGregor. Running up to lightweight without defending his belt immediately dismisses any case you want to put forward.

As for what’s next, he most definitely could stay at featherweight and continue picking off top contenders – Renato Moicano, Chad Mendes and perhaps Zabit Magomedsharipov down the track – or he could attempt to truly solidify his legacy with a move to lightweight and fulfil his goal of being the pound-for-pound champion.

He could fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for the title but, while he and Conor both have potential bans looming overhead after the infamous UFC 229 chaos, a match-up for the No.1 contender and perhaps interim title against Tony Ferguson (who has already called Holloway out) looms.

It would be an incredible match-up of two very talented, well-rounded individuals who pose danger with striking but also on the floor.

That’s the fight I think is most plausible, at least until Conor and Khabib are given a sentence.

Where does Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway fit into things for you, and what should he do next?

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